The media has recently been inundated with news of the arrest of George Clooney, his father, and multiple high ranking individuals who have stood up against another genocide that the world plays “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” about. In 1994, The UN did not step in to help the innocent in Rwanda, leading to the slaughter of over 800,000 Tutsis. That was a grave mistake made because of US’ veto not to get involved. Today, as for the last many years, a genocide continues in Sudan, having spread beyond Darfur. Yet the world is preoccupied with money and entertainment, not understanding that while they lavish in their million dollar homes, over half a million are on the brink of starvation today, over 2.7 million have been displaced, hundreds die on a daily basis and there are no gravestones to mark with respect the deceased. Nearly 100 years ago, Armenians faced the same ignorant attitude, the same starvation, the same lack of proper burial and the same disease of forgetfulness by those who had the power to help. Yet, when there are those who demand an end to genocide today, they are arrested and mistreated. When activists of all ages, genders and importance to their communities stand up and scream out for action against human rights violations, who hears their demands?
Darfur is a region in Sudan the size of France. It is home to about 6 million people from nearly 100 tribes. Some nomads. Some farmers. All Muslims. In 1989, General Omar Bashir took control of Sudan by military coup, which then allowed The National Islamic Front government to inflame regional tensions. In a struggle for political control of the area, weapons poured into Darfur. Conflicts increased between African farmers and many nomadic Arab tribes.
In 2003, two Darfuri rebel movements- the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)- took up arms against the Sudanese government, complaining about the marginalization of the area and the failure to protect sedentary people from attacks by nomads. The government of Sudan responded by unleashing Arab militias known as Janjaweed, or “devils on horseback”. Sudanese forces and Janjaweed militia attacked hundreds of villages throughout Darfur. Over 400 villages were completely destroyed and millions of civilians were forced to flee their homes.
In the ongoing genocide, African farmers and others in Darfur are being systematically displaced and murdered at the hands of the Janjaweed. The genocide in Darfur has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people. More than one hundred people continue to die each day; five thousand die every month. The Sudanese government disputes these estimates and denies any connection with the Janjaweed.
The Sudanese government appears unwilling to address the human rights crisis in the region and has not taken the necessary steps to restrict the activities of the Janjaweed. In June 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) took the first step in ending impunity in Darfur by launching investigations into human rights violations in Darfur. However, the government of Sudan refused to cooperate with the investigations.
On March 4, 2009 Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, became the first sitting president to be indicted by ICC for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur. The arrest warrant for Bashir follows arrest warrants issued by the ICC for former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb. The government of Sudan has not surrendered either suspect to the ICC.
As reports coming from Sudan paint an increasingly gruesome picture of the Khartoum government allegedly planning to wipe out the country’s ethnic populations and non-Muslims in the southern region of the Nuba Mountains, local Christian missions are playing an important role, as even the United Nations has no access to the country’s embattled southern regions.
Experts have been warning that Sudan’s Islamist government might be planning a genocide comparable to the one conducted in the country’s western region of Darfur between 2003 and 2004, when the Arab government targeted black tribes. It is estimated that 300,000 people died at the time.
During George W. Bush’s time as president violence raged in the Darfur region of Sudan. Scholars, advocates and a virtual army of celebrities raised awareness through any means necessary. Together with faith-based groups and Bush’s ‘armies of compassion,’ then President Bush forged a path that while imperfect led to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and a brief respite from genocide. The CPA made South Sudan’s independence possible and inevitable. Unfortunately the vigor of the activists and the media’s appetite for covering the complex situation in Sudan diminished. This troubling development was compounded by the new president, Barack Obama, and his unwillingness to take any substantive action to forestall a slide back to full scale genocide.
Today, more than three years into the Obama Administration, the people of the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Abyei are acutely aware of what war crimes feel like. In Darfur, a “slow-motion genocide,” as presidential contender Mitt Romney recently noted, is underway. People are being slaughtered because of their ethnicity in the Nuba Mountains. They have retreated into caves, leaving behind their pastoral and self-sustaining lifestyle in fear for their lives.
Hollywood star George Clooney and his father were released tonight following their arrest at a demonstration in Washington. The actor and his father were earlier handcuffed and arrested alongside politicians and faith leaders for civil disobedience after repeatedly ignoring police warnings to leave the Sudanese embassy grounds. The protests were directed at Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir who they accuse of provoking a humanitarian crisis in the country by preventing aid from entering the Nuba Mountains in the country’s border region. The actor had recently secretly travelled into the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, where his group apparently witnessed a rocket attack. Clooney appeared in a YouTube clip of his secret trip into the southern reaches of Sudan. In the video, which he wrote and directed, the actor is shown witnessing what he claims was likely to be a Chinese made missile in flight. In evidence to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week, Clooney drew comparisons between Sudan and the violence in Darfur describing it as “ominously similar”. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/george-clooney-released-after-arrest-at-sudan-protest-in-washington-7575568.html)
Also arrested for civil disobedience were representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), James Moran (D-Va.), John Olver (D-Mass.) and Al Green (D-Texas), as well as Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide and John Prendergast of the Enough Project and the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. Also participating in the protest was Martin Luther King III. “We were pleased by the broad public awareness generated by George Clooney and all of the participants in today’s protest, which we were proud to cosponsor with United to End Genocide”, said ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian. “As Americans of Armenian heritage, who continue to bear witness to the dangerous precedent set by Turkey’s still unpunished crimes of genocide and exile against the Armenian nation, we look forward to helping to translate today’s energy into concrete action by the U.S. and the international community to stop the killing, punish the perpetrators and serve justice for the victims.” Nahapetian led a group of Armenian-Americans who joined the more than 100 activists to protest the Sudanese government’s continued blockade of humanitarian aid to the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile, where half a million residents are on the brink of starvation. The ANCA was a co-sponsor of the protest, along with Jewish World Watch, Amnesty International, the NAACP, STAND and a slew of other national organizations. Since July of last year, the ANCA has worked with members of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and United to End Genocide to raise alarm bells regarding the Sudanese Government’s attacks against the civilians of the Nuba mountains – urging Congress to take immediate action to stop the killing. (http://asbarez.com/101716/george-clooney-members-of-congress-arrested-at-anca-co-sponsored-protest/)
Fred Kramer, Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, was arrested this morning at the Sudanese embassy in D.C. in protest of the Sudanese government’s attacks on the residents of the Nuba Mountains region in Sudan. Kramer was participating in a peaceful protest with actor George Clooney, Congressman Jim McGovern and other prominent activists and government officials.After speaking on the steps of the embassy to hundreds of activists, members of Congress and activist leaders were asked by police to leave the scene. When the protest continued, officers arrested those who would not comply. Additional participants arrested in the civil disobedience included Nick Clooney, Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast, Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism Director Rabbi David Saperstein, and American Jewish World Service Associate Director of Policy Ian Schwab. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jww-executive-director-among-those-arrested-in-dc-at-sudanese-protest-2012-03-16)
After speeches by several of the protest leaders, a police officer told the group she was giving them a third warning, after which they would be arrested. A few moments later, the arrests began. The group stood calmly as they waited for the police to apply plastic handcuffs as the crowd of protesters chanted “al-Bashir to the ICC,” referring to the International Criminal Court, where Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted. Clooney was charged with disorderly crossing of a police line, a misdemeanor, Secret Service spokesman Max Millien said. The Secret Service is responsible for security at foreign diplomatic missions in Washington. He paid a $100 fine, choosing to forfeit that money to avoid a court appearance, said Gwendolyn Crump, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department. Clooney met with President Obama on Thursday to discuss his concerns about Sudan.He testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week about violence in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, a state in Sudan near its border with newly independent South Sudan. Clooney and other activists blame the Sudanese government for attacks there that have injured and killed civilians. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/16/us/washington-clooney-arrest/?hpt=us_c2)
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